Billed as Milwaukee’s oldest and most unique cocktail lounge, I had to check it out, and step out of my “sports bar” comfort-zone. Let me be the first to say that I’m glad that I did!

Last Saturday my girlfriend and I ventured out to the city’s south side, 9th and Lapham to be exact to indulge ourselves in some cocktails at Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge (1579 S. 9th street, 414-383-2620). We were lucky to score some “rock star” parking right on the corner, since the only parking is on the city streets.  As we walked through the door, we were immediately taken back to a simpler time, with the exotic dim lighting, plush velvet walls, an aquarium behind the bar,  and some old school tunes. (Sinatra was on when we walked in). It had a very calming and relaxed feel to it.

We ventured to the bar and was greeted by one of the two bartenders dressed with the standard professional white shirt, black vest, and black pants, he said “Welcome to Bryant’s, what can I create for you?”  The way things work here is that even though Bryant’s has over 450 different cocktails, they don’t have a menu, it leaves room for creativity. So, what you do, is tell the bartender what type of spirits you like (eg. rum, vodka, bourbon, etc), then he’ll ask you a series of questions of other likes, and dislikes, from there the mixology begins.

I’ll have to say the lime infused, frothy rum drink I had, was excellent, something I would’ve never put together myself. As for my girlfriend, who doesn’t really like rum, but, after tasting mine wanted a rum concoction, expressed her likes and dislikes, and he created something out of this world!

As we drank our drinks we looked around, it was nice to just relax, and have a conversation, without trying to shout over some Metallica or have to worry about being in the way of a game of darts or pool. It was fun to watch the bartenders do their thing, using blenders, hand shaking and stirring drinks, lighting drinks on fire, using bottle after different bottle, I even saw a scoop or two of ice cream go into the blender, and NOT ONCE did either one look at a recipe. Now that’s impressive!  The bartenders stayed busy the whole time, not texting or checking their cell, not watching t.v. (there is NO t.v.), it was clear that they were behind the bar to serve the customer, and make the customer feel like this unique experience was just for them. They wanted the customer to be happy and relaxed, so that they come back again.

There are no tappers here, I did see some bottles of beer in the cooler (Miller High Life, Schlitz, etc). There is also an upstairs called the Velvet Room, for private parties. I checked it out in between cocktails, it was pretty cool as well, the music was a little more upbeat, which was fine, it also had its own bartender mixing up whatever you wanted, just like on the main floor.

Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge is definitely a place I will go to again, and a place I would take someone from out-of-town visiting our fair city, because, it is something different. Just like that old saying, “variety is the spice of life.”

Jeff Miller


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